Salesmanship; the word immediately triggers a negative response from most people. The average consumer doesn’t like talking to salespeople, and most new entrepreneurs don’t like the idea of selling to their consumers.
I understand that. Sale reps can be intimidating and it’s uncomfortable making small talk with them because you know their intent is to pitch you something. When I’m browsing a retail store I prefer to be left alone until I have questions or until I’ve decided to go ahead and buy.
But I do understand the need for selling in our society. Quite honestly, this activity is responsible for most of the advances we enjoy as a civilization. Not only do salespeople drive the world economy with their diligent efforts, the idea behind every technological or medical advance in history had to first, be sold to someone. We all use selling on a daily basis to improve our own lives and make the world a better place, whether we’re teaching our kids the importance of recycling or we’re trying to get a date at the supermarket with the cute cashier at checkout #6.
The reality that most business people wake up to very quickly is that all but natural born salespeople have a really difficult time with hard selling. People tend to think of selling as impolite, and they are uncomfortable trying to convince people to buy from them. A lot of new businesspeople and entrepreneurs are uncomfortable selling. Note the word “new”, because those that survive in their field long-term either get over it and learn to sell, or they hire someone else to do the selling for them; the only other alternative is to go under due to lack of revenue.
Even if you have a great product, you must be able to craft an effective sales message in order to move this item into the possession of a customer who really wants or needs it. The great fallacy that kills many businesses is the notion that a great product will sell itself; if this were true the world we live in would be very different and nobody would need a sales force for their company.
Think about it: No matter how great a product is, how can your prospect really know this unless you point out all the benefits for them?
To overcome any reticence you have in this area, you need to understand that selling can be a very positive thing. It doesn’t have to be about tricking people into giving you their money. As master salesman, Zig Ziglar, likes to say, you are the customer’s trusted “assistant buyer”, helping them to make a choice to improve their life. Wealth Coach, Harv Eker, points out, you should be proud of the value you offer and promote it “with passion and enthusiasm”. If you entertain any negative thoughts or feelings about selling, shift your perspective immediately and look at sales ability as a wonderful thing that makes the world better for all involved.
Secondly, understand that it isn’t essential to be a great salesperson to leverage copy writing, for big profits. Most people, whether they’d admit it or not, actually enjoy reading a great sales letter about a product or service they have an interest in. The sales copy model would have faded away a long time ago, if this method didn’t work and weren’t well-received by the buyer. And the best part about this is that you don’t have to interact directly with the prospect, so there’s no pressure and no rejection!
It’s much easier to say something in writing – whether it’s on paper or on a webpage – than to say it directly to another person who is standing in front of you. You can take all the time in the world to think over each line, and you can edit your work until your message relays exactly what you want to say. To be a successful copywriter all you need to be able to do, is write a simple letter and learn the simple secrets I’m about to reveal.
The following three simple rules will help you get started with effective copy writing immediately. Of course you could spend an entire career improving your game but the main thing is to start with solid fundamentals and have fun mastering the basics.
One final caveat: You DO need to develop the sales mentality or your default psychological position will be to look for excuses and you’ll be writing with an exit in mind rather than a sale. Any lack of confidence or negative feelings toward selling will show through in your finished copy. Be sure to find your strong mental game before you start writing.
Rule Number One: People Don’t Like Being Sold
Most people love to buy, but are not fond of being directly sold to. Or more accurately, most folks don’t like knowing they are the target of a sales pitch.
Buying is a control position. Consumers feel empowered by the idea that they can spend their money with you or go elsewhere. Being pushed into a purchase by an assertive salesperson however is the opposite of being in control. This is why retail shoppers don’t like sales reps and it’s why your reader will click away if they feel they are being manipulated into a buying decision.
Your job as a copywriter is, to be as helpful as possible in terms of showing the reader how they can solve a big problem or attain something that makes them feel good about who they are. Your letter must focus heavily on benefits, feelings, and problem solving.
Rule Number Two: Focus on Emotional Triggers
The best copywriters can push the right emotional buttons. Most people don’t buy from an intellectual place, they purchase based on the emotions of the moment or the anticipated emotions of actually possessing the product/service. Some experts believe that people only engage rational thought AFTER they have bought. They spend money in an emotional moment and then they use their intellect to justify the decision later on.
Think about some of the illogical things people happily spend money on. Take chocolate cake and other sweets, for example. The stuff causes excess fat, and it can screw up your metabolism and blood sugar, yet any one category of desserts, candy, etc. is a multi-million dollar industry. Nobody needs a big slab of chocolate cake, people love it because it makes them feel great for a little while.
This is just one example of emotional button-pushing. In a previous article, I listed the big seven, powerful emotional motivators that are also known as the Seven Deadly Sins: fear, greed, vanity, lust, pride, envy, and laziness. These emotions obviously have a very negative slant but this doesn’t mean your letter needs to be twisted and depressing. Besides which, the readers won’t deliberately think of themselves in any of these ways, so your approach to hitting the buttons will be subtle.
For example, a software application that will save your prospect time could trigger the laziness and pride buttons. Your copy might paint a vivid picture of all the downtime the software can offer users, as well as instilling the idea that co-workers will be jealous of your buyer when they find out they are using your slick program. See how you can push these emotional buttons without being tactless?
Rule Number Three: Emphasize the Benefits
Once you understand the emotional triggers you can use for your copy, you’ll need to translate these into clear benefits for the prospect. Remember, benefits are not the same thing as features. A feature is a specific trait or quality of your product but a benefit is what this feature means for the buyer (i.e. how he or she will feel as a result of the feature).
Consider this scenario: A man walks into a store looking for a 60-inch flat screen TV for his basement. He wants this item but isn’t sure he really needs to spend the money. The sales rep, being well-trained, helps the prospect understand how much better the new TV will make his life.
Our TV shopper can easily picture himself on the couch with a beer watching his favorite team in high def. It’ll be nice to have such a clear picture with great sound and he works hard so he really deserves to be able to kick back in serious style during his free time. He also likes the idea of his buddies always wanting to watch the game at his place, once he has his new, killer TV in place. No more driving to someone else’s house each week!
Our prospect can already imagine the compliments he’ll get on his new toy. Even the ladies will want to spend time in his TV room; after all it’s a lot like going to the movies, only with privacy!
Can you see how the basic features of this TV – wider screen, high def picture and digital sound – are instantly translated into very real user benefits? And can you see how different emotions like vanity, pride, and even lust can be rolled into a simple presentation?
By pressing a couple of common emotional buttons and painting a clear picture of the benefits your buyer will enjoy, you pretty much have your product sold. All you need is a little practice and you’ll be selling your wares by the truckload.
Two Basic Selling Styles
It makes sense to close this article with a brief explanation of the two primary selling styles. You may naturally find that you lean toward one of these methods, or it may require a little time to figure out where you fit. Remember, all good selling works with emotions and these are the two basic ways to trigger your prospect’s emotional reaction.
The Classical Style
The classical approach involves stimulating a buying response without personally entering the picture. Your letter will be focused entirely on product benefits and emotional triggers, and says nothing about who you are or why the prospect should listen to you.
This is a very common approach. Think about all the things you have bought without even being aware of who was doing the selling. For example, have you ever signed up for a credit card because the bank president charmed you? Many purchases are made based on benefit points and with no consideration of the seller’s personality or story.
Classical style selling can be extremely effective but you may also be able to raise the bar by introducing yourself to your prospect, so to speak. This leads us to the second stylistic method.
The Charismatic Flair
This approach to selling heavily relies on using your personality, expertise, etc, to make an impression on your prospect. For instance, if you are a fitness coach with a weight loss product, your prior experience and knowledge can have a real impact on a reader’s buying decision.
Your personal story, including why you are the best person to buy this product from, will go a long way toward making your prospect comfortable with a recommendation. It’s also possible that your personality, reflected through your writing style, will strike a chord with the reader.
Have you ever bought a product that you didn’t really need just because you liked the salesperson? I certainly have. I recall once buying a complete car stereo system that I couldn’t even afford. I wanted to walk away, but the salesman was so funny and personable that I felt he deserved a commission. It sounds crazy but it happens a lot. No-one likes to admit it but even people who hate being sold have a hard time saying “no”. It’s just not a skill and a confidence most folks have, so you can totally win a sale just by having the right personality.
In my example above, the classic sales rep told me everything about the stereo, from everything it could do to the way it would make me feel. It was a great pitch and I wanted it badly but I still didn’t want to spend the money.
Then Mr. Charismatic salesman told me about his kids, some of his college anecdotes, and about the many car stereos he’d owned in his life. The more he talked the more I liked him and ultimately, I bought his product primarily for this reason!
You should definitely give real consideration to throwing yourself into your sales letter. You never know whom you might sway just by being you.
It’s a Confidence Thing
Before you can sell anything, you need to understand the three basic rules in this article, and you need to have a working knowledge of the two different approaches (classical, charismatic, or a combination of the two).
Above all, remain confident in your product and your ability to help your prospects make a sound buying decision. If you lack a positive sales mentality you’ll write with an exit in mind, and your potential buyers will see this every time.
Use these tips to get started and remember, selling is a skill. Whether it’s face-to-face or through a powerfully written sales letter, practice is critical to your ultimate success.
By Rich Chille
This article first appeared in the August 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at http://the7figuresecrets.com